Global markets have been soaring for years, bringing with them concerns of a ‘correction’. With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down supply chains, the fear is that we are headed for a global recession. So, how do you recession proof your photo or video business?
I’m sure you like to think of yourself as a creative artist, but, in terms of getting paid, most photographers and video professionals are technically in the service industry. We are hired by individuals or companies to perform the service of creating visual media, whether that be taking wedding photos or producing branded video content.
And, when a recession strikes, the service industry always takes a hit. Everyone, from luxury brands to low cost service providers, suffers, but they suffer differently.
Who gets hurt the most?
The businesses in the middle of the market are the ones that suffer the most in a recession.
People who regularly buy from a luxury brand will continue to go with a luxury brand even during a recession. Those luxury brands might slightly lower their prices to reflect the economic concerns and give people a ‘deal’. Or they might even raise their prices since there may be a higher demand for their commodities.
And obviously when money is tight, people will be shopping for a bargain. So low-end businesses in the market will be getting a lot of calls. Photo and video businesses in this sector should focus solely on their pricing during the recession.
If you’re in the middle of market, you need to start finding a way to distinguish yourself beyond just your price. What does this mean? Well, you need to find out what it is that you offer your clients that nobody else does.
That doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a product or service that exists nowhere else, it could be that you just do something better than all the rest or you provide the highest quality product of that type in your market.
Once you figure out what it is that distinguishes you from the rest of your market, you need to be using it in all of your marketing and client communications. Otherwise, you’re going to fade into the grey area of the middle of the pack and your business will suffer.
Three Ways to Prepare Your Photography or Video Business for a Recession
Once you’ve found your place in the market and figured out how to communicate your value to potential clients during an economic downturn, now you have to prepare your business for less money coming in the door.
Pay Off Your Business Debt!
If you owe money on a credit card or a business loan, paying that off, whether it is $250 a month or $500, is going to be more of a challenge when your cash flow starts to slow down.
Pay off as much as you can now so you’re not racking up interest charges.
Make Sure You Have a Rainy Day Fund
The rule of thumb is that you should have 3 months worth of expenses set aside just in case things start going South. But, every business and every business owner is different.
Whatever the case is, you should be socking away as much money as you can in case business dries up for a bit.
Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
It’s time to really think about what you’re spending your money on. If you can find ways to cut back on spending, it frees up your cash for other expenses. Plus, it gets you in the habit of getting by while spending less money.
Here are some expenses to consider cutting back on:
Take a look at those $5 and $10 a month auto-pay subscriptions for software and the like and figure out if you really even use them anymore.
Often times, these services fall through the cracks, we stop using them and forget we’re still paying for them.
Do you really need a new camera or lens? Probably not. If you can get by without it for a while, it’s probably better to hold off on any big equipment purchases. If you really need something for a project, you might consider renting instead.
Do you have a studio or meeting space? Do you use it frequently enough that it justifies the cost?
I’ve made the decision several times over my career to cut ties with a space rental (both studios and meeting spaces) because it just didn’t make sense to be laying out all that money every month.
Look into renting on an as needed basis instead of committing to a long term lease.
It’s time to really evaluate which avenues of your advertising and marketing are bringing in business. Consider how much you spend and how much you business you get back.
If it’s not working, STOP PAYING FOR IT!
As you tighten your purse strings, it may be time to start editing your own photos again instead of farming it out to another service. Especially if you have less jobs coming in, you’ll have more time to do the editing yourself and you can save that cash for other expenses.
Really Consider Your ROI
Think about the ROI (Return on Investment) of all your expenses. Are there places you can cut back or just cut out entirely? It’s good to go through your books regularly and evaluate these things, even if there isn’t a recession looming.
Use Downtime Productively
With an economic downturn, you might find yourself with more downtime than you normally have. You should use that time productively to better yourself and your business. Here are few ideas of ways to spend your downtime:
- Hone your skills. Where could you stand to improve? Need to get better at lighting? Do your Photoshop skills need some work?
- Revamp your portfolio or website
- Consider your marketing materials and advertising – should you adjust how you’re presenting yourself to potential clients in light of the new economic situation? Should you be further differentiating yourself from others in your market?
- Learn a new skill – take an online class or study up with some YouTube tutorials.
- Add new revenue streams – additional types of photography or offerings might add new clients, or bring old clients back to hire you again!
- Start stockpiling blog posts. Use the time to write a bunch of blog posts so that once you’re busy again, you don’t have to take time to write. You’ll already have a bunch of posts ready.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions or concerns, leave a comment or reach out to us on social media and we’ll do our best to answer them.